Alan Burns: Music Radio Too Much Hype, Too Little Interaction
July 27, 2009 at 2:15 PM (PT)
In an analysis of the verbal content of music radio, ALAN BURNS AND ASSOCIATES found what they feel is a big reason for diminished audience engagement: Radio stations spend too much time promoting their own needs and attributes and too little time addressing topics that may be of interest to the audience, but which aren't tied to station activities.
"We have felt for some time that music radio has come to be dominated by talk about the station, rather than content that’s driven by a focus on the audience" CEO ALAN BURNS said. "With this analysis we set out to discover whether that opinion was accurate. Unfortunately, it is."
We're falling into a self-perpetuating, increasingly tight spiral: The less attention listeners pay to us, the more we have to pound home our messages -- and the less attention they pay to them
BURNS’ staff analyzed the verbal content, not including recorded commercials, of various AC and Top 40 stations in markets 10 to 100, and calculated the percentage of voice breaks containing or devoted to various topics.
"In a typical hour’s 14 breaks, 10 will contain station positioning and 7 will contain contest, promotional, sales, website, and/or text program information" BURNS noted. "Once you get past scheduled clichés like weather and celebrity gossip, the average station in this sample had only one break per hour containing a comment designed solely to address the audience about the audience or its interests. And that’s if we define a ‘listener-focused’ break very generously."
"The radio industry is under enormous pressure from revenue challenges, new technologies, and the fight to maintain relevance" he continued. "In the long run, maintaining relevance is the most important of those issues because it contains so much of the solution to the other challenges. The more relevant and important radio’s content is, the better it competes with less intimate media and the greater the perceived importance of the medium to the public and advertisers. By not engaging listeners fully and intimately, radio has created a generation or two of listeners whose involvement with the medium is less than their predecessors. We're falling into a self-perpetuating, increasingly tight spiral: The less attention listeners pay to us, the more we have to pound home our messages -- and the less attention they pay to them."
"We aren't suggesting that we stop positioning and promoting. Far from it. But music radio does need to find ways to make what we do more about the listener and the music," he continued.
The full study, "What Does Music Radio Communicate When It’s Not Playing Music?" is available online at www.burnsradio.com.
For more information, contact ALAN BURNS at (850)497-2346 or email@example.com.